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How to deal with an unreasonable boss

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Not all managers are like me.  Some are mean, arrogant and don’t care about their staff.  That is not me…..I am better than that.

There will come a time, at least once, in your career where you will hit a wall when you are trying to deal with your manager.  They don’t listen to what you have to say, they don’t want to work with you or they are just completely unreasonable.  When that happens, what do you do?

Here are my suggestions, these would work with me.

First, before you go talk to them make sure you have all your ducks in a row. What I mean is, be ready to present you case. If your attendance has been perfect, show them. If you have been a team player by picking up extra shifts when there are holes, or you have joined committees, be ready to talk about that. On the flip side, if you call off a lot or are not engaged in the unit, be ready to explain.

Second, be honest and straightforward. If you need time off to go somewhere silly like a Star Trek convention, don’t lie and say you are going to your grandma’s funeral, because when she really dies or already has, you will have to explain that.

Third, be prepared for questions or even an answer of “NO!”.  Don’t get tongue-tied and start stuttering, and don’t start crying. Nothing is worse in my office than when somebody cries.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask why. Maybe there is something you don’t know about that the manager does know. Maybe a couple other nurses are on FMLA, maybe there is a new process implementation that week and they really need your leadership.  Found out what you can do to help them out as well.

If you do get a “no”, where do you go from there? Well, you have a couple of options: Try talking to them again, and make an even better case. Or, take your argument to the next level. But, be extra prepared for this course of action. The Director or CNO will probably back up the manager’s decision, just like your manager should back you up on a conflict.  So, you need to have a better presentation to give the next level of management if you want to get what you want.

Be prepared and be honest. When it comes to my staff I will listen to everyone’s case, and if that nurse is willing to help me out when needed, I will work with them.

But then again, I am awesome (that’s not arrogant, is it?).

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Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed. Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university. Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.
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4 Responses to How to deal with an unreasonable boss

  1. marsha

    What can be done about a DON that seems to love punishing her staff? She does it to most of us. She must stay awake at nite thinkings of things for which each one of us can be punished. She is never satifsied. We can never do enough. She thinks her way is the only way. Except for her I like my job and would prefer to not leave.

  2. genny

    my boss keep pin pointing on me for every single thing & warn me
    will report to management & issue warning letter due flwg :-

    1. attitude problem for replying email without more explaination
    which the sender did not request for any explanation
    2. wrong for not include group email

    when I include group email now every email I sent he do not read & keep sending to me asking job being done. this is increasing our email. today he say vulgar words say it’s wrong way to replying email.

    I’ve bn working in this company for 23yrs & undefeated few bosses he’s the worse I’ve ever meet. he’s so lazy & do not concern staff at all. he always knock off at 5.30pm sharp & go for early lunch at 11.45pm I/0 12.30pm. what can I do? I’m getting crazy. pls help.

    • Lauralea RN

      It appears that English is not your first language. You need to get a copy of your facilities policies and procedures, and read all of them, get someone to help you if you do not understand them fully. Abusive and vulgar language is not permitted in any facility that I know of. Since you have email, keep a copy of all correspondence. You can also go up the chain of command, explaining that you do not understand what your immediate supervisor is requiring of you, and ask for help. Do not do this in an angry or confrontational way. Your attitude should be that you want to do what is required of you correctly, not one of complaint. If the abuse continues you can forward a blind copy of all correspondence up the chain of command. And if you still cannot get the situation resolved, and I suspect it will be as turn over of longtime employees requires the expense and training to find someone to replace them, call your local state bar and get a referral to a good employment attorney. The attorneys first consultation is usually free or very low cost – $25 or $50, and if you have a case you often do not need a retainer.

  3. msjudie

    Some can be challenging indeed. I was once reprimanded for starting work two hours late. I reminded her that I was on the late schedule that day. Her response? “Don’t do it again.” Not sure she actually listened to my reason.